21-Year-Old College Student Dies Suddenly - Suffered Cardiac Arrest During Soccer


Mercer University’s Baba Agbaje, a 21-year-old student athlete on the Mercer Bears soccer team, passed away last week after suffering a heart attack during a game, according to the coroner for Macon-Bibb County in Georgia.

WGXA confirmed cardiac arrest as the cause of death Monday, citing coroner Leon Jones, but WXIA-TV, reporting the following day, no “official cause of death has yet been determined, as an autopsy has not yet been performed.”

What appears not to be in doubt, however, is how much Agbaje was loved by those who knew him.

“He was an incredible person, who embodied what it means to be a Mercer Bear. Everyone who knew Baba loved him and he was a blessing to coach,” Mercer coach Brad Ruzzo told WXIA-TV.

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Bunky Colvin, who taught Agabje at his high school in Peachtree, Georgia, as well as coaching his high school soccer team, said that the young man was a friend to everyone he met.

“Every teacher he ever had, every person he ever had contact with, just thought ‘this is a great human being,'” Colvin said. “Unselfish, loved life, always positive.”

“I don’t think there was a person that Baba ever met that, within five minutes, didn’t think ‘this guy’s gonna be my friend,'” he added. “He just had this big beautiful smile, you knew that it was all coming from his heart, that he genuinely liked people.”

“Our hearts go out to the Agbaje family on their tragic loss and ask the Mercer family to keep them in their thoughts and prayers,” Mercer President William D. Underwood said on the university’s website. “Baba was an outstanding student, having been named to the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll, and was a valued teammate to other members of the soccer team.

“Words cannot convey the extent of our sadness over Baba’s passing,” he added.

Colvin said Agabje’s untimely death emphasized the need for life-saving equipment and personnel training in its use to be present at sporting events of all types.

“We can’t take for granted just because someone is an elite athlete, a very healthy person, that something can’t go wrong,” he said.

This would seem to be especially true given the dramatic rise in heart issues among young people in American since the COVID-19 pandemic.

A “medically reviewed” article on HealthCentral cited a 2022 study that found individuals who had been tested positive for coronavirus saw a “substantial” increase in their risk for potentially dangerous cardiac issues, including “irregular heartbeat, heart failure, inflammation, or heart attack.”

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And “Today” cited another study from Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles showing people between 25 and 44 experienced a 30 percent increase in fatal heart attacks during the pandemic compared to pre-pandemic rates.

Heart attacks increased among older Americans as well, but not at such a dramatic rate.

NBC News senior medical correspondent Dr. John Torres told “Today” that research showed that contracting COVID itself was 11 times more likely to lead to myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, than receiving the vaccine.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of "WJ Live," powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.
George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English as well as a Master's in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.
Foxborough, Massachusetts
Beta Gamma Sigma
B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG
North Carolina
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics